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"I knew then and i know now, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it."

-Claudette Colvin

February is Black History Month! Read about Claudette's inspiring story here.

Important Dates!
I have three Town Hall dates coming up. These events are excellent way for you to learn about what is happening at your statehouse, to ask questions, and to communicate your concerns or ideas to me. The Town Halls will be from 6-7pm on the following days:

  • February 11th at Shadow Hills Elementary School
  • February 18th at Roosevelt Elementary School
  • March 3rd at Hidden Spring Elementary School

Bills in Committee
Two of my bills were heard in committee this week, and one will be heard next week:

  • S1275 - This bill will require health benefit plans to provide reimbursement for a 6-month supply of contraceptives. Currently, many insurance plans reimburse for only a 1-3 month supply of contraception. This will reduce barriers to contraceptives, help people plan their families and avoid unintended pregnancy, and save money. Every Idahoan deserves affordable and accessible birth control that works for them, regardless of income or insurance. Consistent access to contraceptives gives people the ability to control when and if they have children, giving them more career and education opportunities and encouraging healthier pregnancies. This bill does not legalize anything nor make anything illegal. It is only about insurance benefits and adjusting a time frame for convenience and accessibility. S1275 was sent from committee to the Senate floor with a Do Pass recommendation! Keep an eye out for this bill on the Senate floor soon!
  • RS27591 - This legislation will add a statute to Idaho code that will create a "Too Great for Hate" specialty license plate. Funds generated by the license plate will support the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, which is the home of the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. The proposed license plate sends a powerful message that resonates across our great state and declares to all who visit: that Idaho is Too Great for Hate. Keep an eye out for a full public hearing sometime next week in Senate Transportation Committee!
  • RS27279C - My Fair Chance Employment Legislation helps remove barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people. It is straightforward - it removes the initial barriers that people with criminal convictions often face when trying to get a job - that question - "are you a felon?" and instead allows applicants to demonstrate their skills and experience related to the job at hand. Click here to tune in to Senate Judiciary & Rules committee on Monday at 1:30pm to listen live as this bill is introduced.

Speaking to the Senate Commerce and Human Affairs Committee on my 6-month contraception bill!

AARP Lobby Day
AARP visted the Capitol this week and spoke to legislators about issues that are important to them, such as concerns about increasing property taxes, retirement savings programs, and support for multiple pieces of legislation. Click here to learn about how AARP Idaho is working to protect and improve the lives of the 50+ population in the Gem State. Click here to learn how you may qualify to have your taxes done for FREE by a volunteer with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide.

Vaping Epidemic
Dr. Bonnie Halpern Felsher from Stanford Medicine Tobacco Prevention Toolkit presented to the Senate and House Health and Welfare Committees on middle/high school students' use of tobacco and nicotine. The taskforce aims at providing theory-based, evidence-informed resources created by educators, parents, and researchers. Click here to visit their website, which features information on E-cigs/vapes/pod-based devices, nicotine addiction, positive youth development, and examples of curriculums that can be used to educate our youths on the dangers of vaping.

House Vote on Education
House Education Committee voted 10-5 to reject all of Idaho’s content standards for schools, which includes standards for English/language arts, math, and science. Note that our standards are not common core. The Senate Education Committee will vote on the standards sometime next week, and you can be assured I will vote to approve the standards, which will keep them in place despite the House vote. These are Idaho Content Standards written by highly skilled teachers. They were then taken around the state for public review and input. After the public hearings the standards were rewritten to reflect parent concerns. This was a three-year process before the standards were brought to the legislature. It is a waste of taxpayer money to redo these standards and puts over $200 million dollars in federal funds at risk. Keep an eye out for this important vote in the Senate Education Committee.

Foster Care Awareness Day
The second annual Foster Care Awareness Day was held at the Capitol this week! Advocates for child welfare from across the state gathered together to provide state officials with education and first-hand experiences related to foster care in Idaho. Many were in attendance, including foster care alumni, volunteers, providers, parents, youth, and child welfare advocates.

Documents from Idaho Historical Society
This month marks 100 years of voting rights for women, and in commemoration, the Idaho Historical Society brought the original documents to the Capitol from Idaho’s ratification of the 19th amendment!

Constitutional Amendment
House Speaker Scott Bedke presented to the House State Affairs Committee a proposed state constitutional amendment that would fix the number of legislative districts to its current level, which is 35. Currently, the Constitution dictates that there can be no fewer than 30 and no more than 35 legislative districts. We’ve gone 30+ years with 35 districts, but this redistricting commission will have their hands full with facilitating Idaho’s large population increase since the 2010 Census. The House committee agreed unanimously on Bedke’s proposal, but the measure still needs two-thirds support from each house plus majority support from voters in November to finalize the amendment. This was just a print hearing, so we’ll have more details on the amendment once it has a full hearing in House State Affairs. We're keeping a close eye on it to ensure that it won't have a negative, or even illegal, downstream impact on legislative re-districting in Idaho.

Farm, Ranch and Timber Caucus
A new caucus formed by Representatives Troy and Toone and Senators Brackett and Ward-Engelking met for the first time this week. Their aim is to keep rural issues prominent in policy discussion as the state’s population grows and urbanizes. The new growth and changes to our state poses unique challenges to the agriculture and timber industries, which remain key contributors to the Idaho economy. Rural communities are facing issues such as loss of residents and jobs, aging populations, crumbling infrastructure, a lack of Internet connectivity and bandwidth, and inadequate health services. This joint caucus aims to keep rural Idahoans represented at the Idaho Legislature.

IDeal Idaho College Savings Spotlight
Remember the college savings program that was featured in my newsletter last week? Here's a great follow up: Meet Dodds Hayden, who is the President of Hayden Beverage Co. Dobbs' company is matching what employees put in their 529 savings program dollar for dollar up to $5,000! Dodds sat on the Idaho Board of Education for years, and he said that in his time, the biggest consideration by kids on attending secondary education is cost, and the biggest influence on cost is whether or not parents have money put aside. In addition to funding a child's education, a 529 account can be used to retire college debt as well. At Hayden Beverage Company, their goal is to make their employees lives better, and one way they are doing this is helping make college a possibility for their employee's children. Thank you for your leadership and setting a great example, Dodds!

Have a wonderful week,

Cherie

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Cherie Buckner-Webb
Senate D-19 Campaign
P.O. Box 9813
Boise, ID 83707

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